'Increase pay to cut food bank use'

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Most people believe the national minimum wage should be increased to help workers buy essentials such as food, according to a new study.

A survey of almost 2,000 adults by the Unite union found that three out of four blamed the rise in dependence on food banks on increased living costs and foods prices.

Four out of five of those questioned predicted that the growth of food banks is likely to continue next year.

Supporters of all three main political parties backed an increase in the minimum wage.

Speaking ahead of a debate in the Commons on food banks, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The rise of food bank use in the UK is the surest sign that this Government's austerity programme and cost-of-living crisis is causing genuine human misery.

"The so-called recovery is passing ordinary people by as this Government sets the people of this country on a path to poverty.

"It is now high time Britain got a pay rise. Raising the minimum wage by £1.50 will put food on tables and cut the social security bill by £5 billion. As this poll shows, it would be politically popular and is a no-brainer.

"For the first time we see more in-work poverty than out-of-work poverty. Low-wage, high-cost Britain has been created by this Government. It is wholly wrong to expect charity alone to fill in the holes that Osborne and Cameron have punched in social provision.

"The social consequences of the Government's addiction to austerity is seen in the kids that come to school starving and the patients presenting in GPs' surgeries with signs of malnutrition. It's a crisis which will be felt for generations to come.

"This is the seventh richest nation on the planet but there could be as many as one-and-a-half million people depending on food banks to get by this year - that is one-and-a-half times the population of Birmingham going hungry.

"While the banking elite prepare for bumper bonuses, it is clear the wealth of this nation is not being shared."

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